When Suzy Smith started doing PE with Joe Wicks she never would have thought she’d still be doing it 128 days later. Find out what would she say to him if she bumped into him in the street
I’ve always led an active life but not classed myself as sporty. I hated PE at school! I was not a naturally gifted sports person. I felt intimidated by the girls who excelled at netball and those that scooped all the prizes on sports day. I did, however, cycle or walk everywhere and I’ve continued that to this day. I know you have to use the car to get to some places but I’ve never driven the kids to school and we’re always out on family walks or bike rides. I’ve also done yoga or Pilates for much of my life.
When lockdown came and the schools closed I knew I’d miss my daily walks to and from school. Loads of people were sharing Joe Wicks’ plans to do daily PE sessions. I thought it sounded like fun and it was a way to keep my children active on a daily basis.
I was brought up to believe in the benefits of a healthy diet. I chose not to eat meat from a very young age. My Mum is a brilliant cook so she created wonderful vegetarian food for us. I suppose it was considered a bit hippy-ish back then. We were eating beans, bulgur wheat and quinoa before it became fashionable!
I started eating meat when I met my husband 17 years ago. I honestly don’t know why but I suppose I did it to ‘fit in’. I deeply regret that now. I stopped eating dairy products two and a half years ago, stopped eating meat 18 months ago and became vegan in February this year. I feel amazing, full of energy and vitality. It has given me a new focus to life. I used to suffer from acid reflux and IBS occasionally but don’t have any of those issues now. I’m determined to live a long and healthy and disease-free life. I want to stay healthy in old age for the sake of my children. Movies like The Game Changers, What the Health and Forks over Knives have been a massive influence on me and I’ve met some really inspirational local plant-based people through my work.
Lockdown for us was a chance to reconnect as a family. Life gets too busy with school, work, homework, kids’ after school clubs and their social lives! I felt like we shifted down a gear. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together at the same table every day. We walked every day and chatted lots. We relaxed and watched a bit of TV after dinner together. Whilst it was tough in lockdown in terms of missing other family members and friends and there was an overwhelming worry of what this disease is capable of, we have found it a positive experience. Life has been put into perspective and we have learnt what truly matters to us.
When I started doing PE with Joe I had absolutely no intention of completing 128 days. What a ridiculous notion! However, exercise has the power to make you feel mentally positive, full of energy and it gets those feel good hormones flowing. Exercise becomes addictive! Anyone can do it and you don’t need any expensive equipment.
During the first week I could hardly walk up and down stairs. My quads were aching from all the lunge jumps. I kept going and soon got over the aching and I could keep up with the pace of Joe Wicks. I could see and feel my muscles becoming stronger. It didn’t take that long to notice a real difference.
My sons are very active children anyway. They don’t have a choice in the matter to be honest! They fully appreciate the effect that exercise has on your health. I think it’s really important to lead by example. What is the point in me telling them that they need to keep fit if I’m sitting on the sofa all day long and driving my car to school? They loved joining in with PE with Joe, particularly on dress up Fridays. They did not complete the 128 days though!
I thought I was fit before because I was constantly on the move. I was flexible and had a strong core from doing Pilates and yoga for years. Now I’m much stronger and I can do proper press ups. I didn’t have very good upper body strength prior to taking on this challenge. I’m fitter than I’ve been before in my life and I’m in my late 40s! I wish I’d come to it earlier.
My knee is better than it has been in years. I don’t have any pain after exercise. Having stronger quad muscles really helps to support the knee.
It has helped mentally, too. PE with Joe was a focus for each day. You might start off feeling like you can’t be bothered to exercise but post exercise the endorphins kick in and you’re raring to get the day started. I like how Joe explains this himself. He believes that the focus shouldn’t be about what you look like but how exercise makes you feel. It has a huge bearing on mental wellbeing.
I’ve continued my exercise regime by doing something different every day. I tune into Joe’s YouTube channel and pick a HIIT session or I do an online class with Iain Marshall-Clarke (Olcote Wellbeing Keeping You Fit in Strange Times). Don’t tell Joe but I have a new exercise man in my life! Iain is amazing. He runs nine different online classes per week. You can watch them live or catch up later. He teaches Pilates, yoga, aerobics, yogalates, core conditioning and a FitSteps dance class (Strictly dance style) which I love. He won the best teacher award last year for FitSteps.
A plant-based diet is well researched and documented as being the key to a long and healthy life. You cannot dispute the science. I eat a mainly wholefood plant-based diet so I don’t eat much processed food. I closely follow the inspiring work of the Blue Zones (bluezones.com). Blue Zones are the areas in the world with the highest life expectancy or with the highest proportions of people who reach the age of 100. They share some common principles including eating a mainly plant-based diet (including loads of veg, beans and nuts) and they move naturally. They don’t join gyms or run marathons, they dig their gardens, walk and don’t have mechanical conveniences.
Joe, you have changed my life for the better! I’m feeling fitter and stronger than ever before. I have completely changed my attitude to exercise – I love PE now! I wish I’d have had an inspirational coach like you at school.
Suzy Smith runs https://bacefoods.co.uk/, based in Hethersett, near Norwich